Kendall Hewetson, our Technical Product Specialist for the lower North Island shares a story about one of her clients, Elijah*, who successfully switched from a tippy and unsafe highchair into the sturdy and durable CatchUp Chair by Special Tomato.
I first heard about Elijah after presenting a range of paediatric equipment to the Child Development Team at Te Wao Nui, which included a new product at the time – The CatchUp Chair by Special Tomato. One of the Occupational Therapists, Michelle, discussed her client, Elijah’s needs with me and the potential of trialing the CatchUp Chair to see if it might fit the bill.
Elijah is a delightful and energetic 18-month-old with Down Syndrome – he is highly dystonic, and feeding was proving challenging for his Mum, as the standard highchair they had been using, tipped and swayed dangerously, with his Mum having to keep a hold on to the highchair, her son and the food. It was simply not meeting the needs of his family and could make for messy mealtimes if Elijah’s Mum’s circus performance skills weren’t on form!
Michelle obtained trial approval for the CatchUp Chair and met me outside the client’s home, assisting me with getting this new rather unwieldy piece of equipment down the ramp and off the back of my van on a wet and blustery Wellington day. To be honest, we both thought it looked too big to fit through the door of the very small flat – and that it would likely take up too much room in the very small environment.
Elijah’s Mum knew what was needed from a feeding chair for her son and as long as we could get it into their home, the CatchUp Chair appeared to meet these needs. It is a very stable, sturdy and highly adjustable mobile seat. The CatchUp Chair is also compatible with Special Tomato’s Soft Touch Sitter, so we added this to the chair as well. Until Elijah has grown a little, this will help to seat him securely (with comfort and protection) while he is having his meals. Once he outgrows the sitter, it can be easily removed and the ‘standard’ CatchUp padded seating will come into play – the whole unit will grow with him with tool free adjustability in the seat height and depth, back height and footrest to seat height.
The trial helped us to ascertain that the longer armrests and tray were required. In less than a week of trialling it every day for all meals, the easy wipe-clean surfaces proved a hit – Mum loves this aspect but moreover is thrilled that her son is not only comfortable but safe.
I’ll admit that the initial reservations the Occupational Therapist and myself both had about the size of the unit, were actually immediately mitigated. Yes, it’s robust – but that is exactly what this chair needs to be. The actual footprint was only fractionally wider than the flimsy standard highchair, the dark grey colour sat perfectly within the tones of the kitchen table furniture around which it is stored, and tucks in easily. A fantastic result for Elijah and his Mum!
*For privacy reasons, the child's name has been changed and please note the photo is not a photo of the child featured in the article.
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